• NJ Redistricting: Well, this sucks. John Farmer, the tiebreaking member on New Jersey's redistricting commission, voted on Friday morning in favor of the GOP's congressional proposal. The plan nominally mashes up GOP Rep. Scott Garrett and Dem Rep. Steve Rothman (NJ is losing a seat), but in reality, it combines most of Rothman's district with that of fellow Dem Rep. Bill Pascrell, which could augur for a Rothman-Pascrell primary. And if Rothman did challenge Garrett, Garrett would still be the favorite, making this a likely 6 D, 6 R map—pretty remarkable for a heavily blue state like New Jersey.
For a more in-depth review of the new plan, I strongly encourage you to click here for David Jarman's complete analysis at Daily Kos Elections. A copy of the new map is below (and a PDF version is here):
• NV-Sen: It looks like the Las Vegas Review-Journal has found a new pollster, after the firm they used last year, Mason-Dixon, badly botched their final poll of the Harry Reid-Sharron Angle race. (They had Angle up by 4, when Reid won by almost 6.) In any event, they're now using the University of Nevada's Cannon Survey Center, which, in their first poll of the season, has Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley leading GOP Sen. Dean Heller by just a single point, 44-43. Ridiculously, UNLV insists on using decimal points, which is perhaps my least favorite tic among pollsters. It indicates a weird failure to understand how significant digits work and what margins of error mean, and always causes me to view any poll which includes them with suspicion. However, the numbers in the case at least are match up with those we've seen elsewhere, including PPP's October survey.
• WI-Gov: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who ran for governor last year and is a possible repeat candidate in a potential recall election of Gov. Scott Walker, just announced his plans to seek re-election to his current post. However, the mayoral race is in April, and given that he's essentially unopposed, it's not inconceivable that he could win that contest and then dive right into a recall race. Indeed, Barrett refused to rule out such a possibility, though I'm not sure how well that would play with his hometown voters.
• AZ-06: Roll Call's Abby Livingston reports that GOP freshman David Schweikert is pleased as punch that his home turf of Fountain Hills was moved into the recently revised 6th CD, which would give him a boost if he and fellow Republican Ben Quayle both decide to run in this district. But I'm wondering how much it matters, because Quayle currently represents about two-thirds of the constituents who will make up the redrawn 6th, while Schweikert represents less than a third.
But perhaps we should read more into Quayle's reticence than into the raw numbers: While a Schweikert-Quayle matchup had looked very likely under the October version of the map, Quayle is now saying he hasn't made up his mind. A spokesman did say, though, that "he’s going to run in a district that represents the majority of his current constituency," so that would have to be the 6th. But comparing their respective quotes, it's clear that Quayle (whose house is just outside the district, in the new 9th) is less thrilled than Schweikert.
• CO-06: Ugh, really? Wealthy chiropractor Perry Haney, a latecomer to the Democratic primary in the redrawn 6th CD, is already taking jabs at state Rep. Joe Miklosi, his chief rival for the right to take on GOP Rep. Mike Coffman. And it's a stale line we've seen deployed pretty unsuccessfully elsewhere so far this year: He's slamming Miklosi for being a "career politician." That's especially ridiculous in this case, given that Miklosi has only served in office since 2009. Hint: If the iPhone was already on the market by the time someone won their first election, they aren't a "career politician." BeloitDem makes an even better point: "In any field besides politics, if you claimed lack of job experience as a qualification, people would look at you like you were insane."
• FL-27: Dem ex-Rep. Alan Grayson says he's raised over $500,000 this quarter for his comeback bid, though with redistricting still looming, it's not exactly clear where he'll run. For now, we'll continue to slot him in in the 27th District, which is what he's marked down on his FEC filings.
• IL-10: I definitely wouldn't have known about this story had Politico's Charlie Mahtesian called attention to it—and the even more unusual fact that it's being covered in the Indian press rather than the American media. In any event, there's a fourth candidate to take note of in the Democratic primary in the 10th: Attorney Vivek Bavda, who hasn't run for office before but has worked for various Illinois politicians and election campaigns. Bavda hasn't raised much money (he says just $50K since entering the race on Sept. 4), but we've seen wallets seriously open up for many Indian-American candidates in the recent past, so Bavda may yet be able to tap into that network. Indeed, Mahtesian says that the Indian press "takes a keen interest in American politics and especially in rising Indian-American politicians like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley."
• IL-15: As expected, veteran GOP Rep. John Shimkus filed for re-election in the 15th CD. His current district is the 19th, whose number is getting retired because Illinois is losing a congressional district. Shimkus represents 54% of the constituents of the new 15th and could have faced an epic primary battle with fellow Republican Tim Johnson, who represents 45%. In fact, I suspect Democrats were hoping to goad them into exactly this fight by creating such an evenly-split 15th. But Johnson selflessly decided to run in the new (and much bluer) 13th, where he's posing a stiff challenge to Dems.
• KY-04: Attorney Marcus Carrey says that he, too, is looking at the open 4th CD (about the ten zillionth Republican to do so), while Democrat Nathan Smith, our best hope of making this race interesting, promises an announcement "after the holiday season."
• NJ-07: This is a bummer: Former Edison Mayor Jun Choi, who seemed like a pretty good recruit for Democrats when he announced that he'd run against GOP Rep. Leonard Lance in May, is dropping out of the race. Choi says his home was moved outside the 7th and is now in Dem Rep. Frank Pallone's 6th. But perhaps a bigger problem is that the township of Edison, which was split between the 6th and 7th under the old lines is now entirely inside the 6th.
• IN-SoS: The judge who ruled that GOP Secretary of State Charlie White was ineligible to run for office last year and therefore had to step down from his post has stayed his ruling pending White's appeal. If you're new to this whole story, I strongly recommend reading AndySonSon's excellent new post, which gives the complete background on this long, complex, and extremely unusual saga.
• Virginia: PPP miscellany.
• Voter Suppression: Wow, a win for the good guys: The Dept. of Justice has refused preclearance to South Carolina's new voter ID law. Just like new redistricting plans, voter ID laws (and in fact, any changes to voting procedures) in so-called "covered jurisdictions" must be first vetted by the DOJ pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. If the Justice Dept. finds that the new laws have a discriminatory effect on minority voting rights (as they did here), they can't go into effect. So South Carolina now either has to sue the DOJ in Washington, DC federal court, pass a modified law, or drop the entire plan altogether. So we could yet face setbacks, but for now, like I said, this is definitely goods news—and taken in concert with the Texas redistricting preclearance case, it's also heartening to see that Attorney General Eric Holder is (finally) willing to show a little muscle on the VRA front. (Of course, the news was announced late on the Friday before Christmas, so it seems like the DOJ didn't want to trumpet the action.)
• CA Redistricting: Yet another Californian is calling bullsh*t on ProPublica's new report claiming the state's new redistricting commission got manipulated by Democrats—though, unlike Dem party chair John Burton, she didn't use that precise word. But importantly, it's not a Democrat who is pushing back: It's Connie Galambos-Malloy, one of the four independent members of the commission. She says that "it’s clear that most of the allegations are dead wrong" and that at least "some of the allegations made in the story are easily disproved by a look at our website." A commission spokesman also confirmed that ProPublica had some initial conversations with commissioners, but never contacted anyone for further comment on "the specifics of the their investigation." It's starting to sound like someone got rolled here.
• NY Redistricting: I've considered writing about Common Cause's new redistricting proposals for New York a couple of times, but ultimately I concluded that they're just another set of maps from yet another interest group. If I wrote a bullet for every similar batch of plans, I'd soon run out of electrons. But, unusually, Common Cause's offerings—which they bill as "non-partisan, good government reform maps"—are actually having some impact on local politics. Assemblyman Jack McEneny, who sits on the legislature's redistricting commission, at least paid lip service to CC's efforts, saying: "We will take a look at them and see what good parts we can incorporate into our plan."
"The Common Cause lines are their own form of gerrymandering with the goal of an idealized form of representation. But the effect is to destroy the representation of communities and neighborhoods in legislative bodies by imposing lines which break up these communities. This is especially so in the Bronx and other outer boroughs where the lines show a vast lack of understanding of and familiarity with the neighborhoods and communities existing there."
Maybe Engel doesn't have to worry, though: CC is already back to whacking the redistricting panel for the crime of wanting to talk to members of Congress about their districts before redrawing the map. And I suspect that what guys like Engel have to say is going to matter a lot more to McEneny & Co. than what Common Cause thinks.
• NY Redistricting: In an unrelated development, Democrats and Republicans on the legislature's redistricting panel (known as LATFOR) have reached a deal on counting prisoners for line-drawing purposes, agreeing that 46,000 of the state's 58,000 inmates should be counted with their hometowns—as state law requires—not their places of incarceration. Supposedly, the state lacks sufficient address information on the remaining 12K, which I find both hard to believe and pathetically believable at the same time, odd as that may sound. What's not clear is whether the GOP will also drop their pending lawsuit over this issue. A recent ruling found in favor of the law (and Democrats), but Republicans are appealing it. So if the GOP is now abandoning their legal case, it may be that Dems sacrificed 12,000 prisoners by pretending they couldn't figure out their addresses in order to get them to do so. I am definitely capable of believing that.
• TX Redistricting: The DC panel hearing the state of Texas's preclearance case just issued a ruling explaining why it denied summary judgment to the plaintiffs (thus necessitating a trial), and also laying out the standards it plans to apply for determining whether the state's maps deserve preclearance. There are a number of complex legal issues at play here, and I can't possibly do a better job summarizing them than Michael Li has, so if you're interested in the topic, I strongly urge you to read his post. All in all, though, it looks like a pretty big win for the Department of Justice, which has opposed granting preclearance to the legislature's state House and congressional maps.